Two Arizona newborns have an interesting story to tell. The twin boys were delivered 10 minutes apart over New Year’s weekend and have different birth years.
Parents Holly and Brandon Shay welcomed their first son, Sawyer, at 11:51 pm Saturday. Then, at 12:01 am on Sunday, their second son, Everett, was born.
The boys’ father joked that Sawyer would tease Everett about being older.
The same event occurred in San Diego over New Year’s weekend. Twin girls were delivered minutes apart, one at 11:56 pm and the other at midnight. This was the second time in a row that twins were born minutes apart and in different years in San Diego.
A theatre company is creating a sensory-friendly version of Charles Dickens,’ “A Christmas Carol,” to be more inclusive to audience members who have autism or struggle with overstimulation.
The Berkshire Theatre Group at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is transforming the holiday classic to accommodate audience members such as autistic children and those who are sensitive to visuals, lights, sounds, and music.
Several modifications will be made to create a sensory-friendly environment. Rather than dimming the lights to pitch-darkness, the crew will lower the lights to half-brightness. In addition, the group will go without the use of stage fog and flashing lights as well as rambunctious motions.
The performing troupe is also creating special cues to notify audience members of upcoming emotional scenes. Audience members can exit the theater if a scene is overwhelming or use a designated safe space located by the restrooms to take a break from the play.
“For audience members familiar with the production, they’ll still see the same story, just a modified version,” said Allison Rachele Bayles, administrative director of education for the theater group. “It’s important for people, to be able as a whole family, to see a production and also be themselves. So if the mood strikes and someone wants to sing along with a carol, that’s great. We want to support their experience.”
Students at Sylvan Elementary School in Alamance County, NC are learning sign language to help their hearing impaired classmate feel included.
Jordan, a 2nd grader at Sylvan, is deaf and his classmates did not want him to be left out. Jordan’s teacher organized an after school sign language class for students.
The class is in the sixth week of the first ten week session. Students have learned to sign the ABCs and numbers and are now learning greetings and feelings.
The sign language class has become quite popular. Students are enthusiastic and even use sign language as they pass each other in the halls.
The students are happy to learn their classmate’s language.
“I think it makes him feel like he’s part of the group and not left out. If there’s somebody who is different, they shouldn’t be left out of a group just because they’re different,” said fifth grader Autumn James. “They should be included.”
The Parlier High School Panthers have not won a football game since 2013, but the team is celebrating the accomplishment of one of its members.
For four years, Justo Bustos, a senior at Parlier, has attended every football practice and game.
Busto has cerebral palsy and has spent most of the time on the sideline.
However, this past Friday, Bustos finally got out onto the field for senior night and scored big for the team. During the opening kickoff, a teammate handed Bustos the ball and off he went to score the first touchdown of the game.
“I was getting tired,” Bustos said. “I gotta pursue and I did, and I dove for the touchdown, just like a real professional player.”
The Parlier Panthers celebrated Bustos, whose teammates say has the biggest heart of anyone they have ever met.
Lora Harrington has dreamed of becoming a cheerleader her whole life. As a child, she would attend her uncles’ and sisters’ sporting events dressed up in a cheer outfit and cheered in support.
This year, Harrington, a freshman at West Salem High School, decided to try out for the school’s cheer team.
Harrington has Down Syndrome and has been excluded from social activities with her peers. Her mother, Cory Wingett, worried that cheerleading try outs would be another experience of exclusion for Harrington.
However, Harrington has had the opposite experience. Harrington’s coaches and teammates warmly welcomed her to the team and have supported her from the beginning.
“For once, it hasn’t been a struggle to be included,” Wingett said. “She is finally being accepted and loved for who she is.”
Aarika Guerrero, the school’s cheer coach, gave Harrington the cheers ahead of tryouts so that she could practice with her speech therapist.
“There were moments (during the tryout) when she was a little overwhelmed,” Guerrero said. “At one point, she hid near the bleachers. One of the cheerleaders, Abby, followed (me) over and we knelt down to check on her.”
The cheer team helps Harrington memorize the 40 cheers that they have to perform and also allows Harrington to choose the cheers at practice.
Harrington’s teammates have not only included her onto the team, but have befriended her as well. Two teammates asked Harrington to the homecoming dance.
Harrington said that making friends has been the best part of becoming a cheerleader. Wingett is moved by the kindness her daughter has received.